Last Updated on October 26, 2021 by BTS 101
One of the biggest reasons why the BTS fandom, ARMY, is so fiercely loyal to the group is their reality show called Run BTS.
Run BTS started in 2015 and it’s a show where the producers give the members ridiculous games and challenges, and the members try to complete them, usually with funny and awkward results. The show is absolutely hilarious – thanks in large part to the editors, who are quick with a zinger and never hesitate to point out the members’ flaws. But it also showcases how charming these seven men are – they are universally sweet, funny, cute, and entertaining, and above all, you can literally see how much they love each other. It will make you desperately want to be part of their inner circle – and with complete openness and accessibility, you DO feel like you’re one of their closest friends.
Run BTS wasn’t their first reality show, though. They started documenting their progress with videos posted to their online blog even before they debuted, back in 2012. They joined Twitter back in 2013 and began posting insider clips and behind the scenes footage right away. As their audience grew, they had the idea to do more reality television and video footage and that led to a few different shows before they settled on the Run BTS format.
Here are some suggestions for content to check out.
Quick Question: What are vLive and Weverse?
vLive is a platform run by Naver, which is the biggest search engine in southeast Asia.
It is a platform where musical acts can “go live” – jump on a livestream and interact with their fans via comments. Lives are usually not captioned right away, but all lives (even going back several years) are kept on the platform and fans eventually provide captions over the next few days. Some of the older lives are pretty cute and funny and worth watching when you have time.
vLive also has some paid content including some of BTS’ reality shows and concerts. It’s worth creating an account there to keep track of your viewing, leave comments, get notifications when BTS goes live, and possibly buy some content. If you find yourself catching BTS live on vLive – always a magical moment! – you might want to follow our list of awesome, dedicated Twitter translators from Unit 10 to get the moment-to-moment gist of what’s happening for vLives that are in Korean.
Weverse is a competing artist platform that is owned by BigHit. It was created specifically for BTS to communicate with their fans and sell merchandise and digital versions of their concerts, but it has expanded to many more artists and has now outgrown vLive. In fact, BigHit now owns both platforms and they will eventually probably collapse into one service.
BTS still do their live streams on vLive but use Weverse for posting selfies and other thoughts, releasing promo photos from public appearances and upcoming releases, and responding to fan posts – it’s sort of like Facebook. It’s also the best place to get digital streams of all their most recent paid content including digital concerts that they’ve put on during the COVID-19 shutdown. So make an account on Weverse, too!
BTS’ first reality show was a ten episode set that aired on a Korean music channel back in 2013. BTS are very young here – Jungkook is still a literal child – and it’s endearing to see them so eager and nervous about their potential future.
The episodes are a combination of them working on their music, image, and sound, and doing crazy skits and pranks. Each episode features a challenge game where one member draws a punishment and is subjected to pretty terrible teenage boy pranking and it’s kind of awful but also so hilarious you can barely breathe. BTS takes it all on with good cheer and it’s very easy to fall in love with them here. The series is available on YouTube.
American Hustle Life
In 2014, BigHit sent the members to the United States for two weeks of training with some established names in American hip hop. This series documents their progress there, as well as the recording of the Dark & Wild album that they did in a garage during the same time period.
It’s actually a pretty hard show to watch, and many ARMY skip this one. It was physically hard on the members as they worked tirelessly on almost no sleep for two full weeks. Some of the Americans they meet are unkind and outright mean to the members, which can be hard to watch, especially as they struggle to communicate and understand. And some fake drama is introduced through artificially created conflict that is just uncomfortable and unpleasant.
Still, there is no doubt that BTS learned a lot during their time here and there are several iconic moments of the members experimenting with English and learning to add a more American sound to their music – something that ended with mixed results, but still helped them grow as artists. It’s available on YouTube if you dare to watch it.
BTS Bokbulbok (Lucky Draw)
A 5-part games series they created when they helped launch vLive – it was their first vLive exclusive content. Aired early in 2015. Shows the boys in their original dance studio drawing games from a bowl and then playing them: telephone charades, Wii boxing, blindfolded hide and seek, ping pong, cup stacking.
Gayo is a word that refers to pop music in Korea, and this 15 episode set from 2015 was made specifically to showcase BTS playing a variety of pop music games. They do things like guess the lyrics of songs, imitate other bands’ choreography, and famously, make their own video for their song Spinebreaker. Not quite as legendary as Run BTS, but in particular tracks 3, 4, 6, and 15 are a must watch. Available on vLive.
Run BTS started as a limited run series of 10 goofy episodes made in 2015, but then they brought it back in January of 2017 and it’s basically ran weekly through to 2021 , with occasional breaks for touring. As of October 2021, it’s on indefinite hiatus, but there’s always the chance they’ll bring it back someday.
There are SO MANY iconic, gut-busting moments from Run BTS. It’s like a shot of joy directly into your veins, and is absolutely enjoyable by anyone, even non-fans. It’s a must watch for any ARMY. This show is where BTS gets the reputation of both adoring each other so much it’s visible, and yet being absolutely willing to betray each other for the prize of ramen noodles.
You can watch early episodes, up to episode 86, on vLive for free. Episodes since then are available on both vLive and Weverse, both for free. We tend to prefer the English captioning on Weverse, but both are good. Since the shows started airing on Weverse, they also release a “behind the scenes” outtakes clip show to go along with the main show – these are paid content and are only available on Weverse.
You’ll probably want to watch literally every single episode (see our list here), but if you are just looking to pick up the flavour of the show and see if it works for you, here are some truly fantastic episodes.
Episode 4 – 30 seconds gate – challenges in the pool, including playing Jenga on a floating raft and drinking a lot of garlic juice as punishment
Episode 11 – Skit in school, with 7 assigned roles – Suga is the female exchange student, j-hope “cries” by throwing water in his face. LEGENDARY.
Episode 20 – Taste of Korea – the first BTS cooking show, with Jin as MC and the others in two teams. Introduces the absolutely iconic squirrel dish, used by V. Jungkook makes sweet potatoes that stick to the dish.
Episode 30/31 – Classic Korean game show games. The first episode features a lot of games that are hard to understand but has truly gorgeous outfits from the late 70s / early 80s on the boys. Second episode is the winner – where they have to nap and then wake up after a half hour and sing the iconic Tomato Song.
Episode 32 – Christmas ornament hunt – where J-Hope is the giggling spy and has to run around cutting everyone else’s pig balloons off. SO FUNNY. Features V hiding in a glass case like a work of art and RM being devoted to the treasure hunt while everyone else just devolves into a chaotic game of run and hide; also features V protecting Jungkook then giving him up for “presents” five minutes later.
Episode 33/34 – Manito (like a secret santa kind of game) – this is the one with the ICONIC jumping photo poses, and the search and find challenge, and then an exchange of gifts, some of which are thoughtful, others of which are crappy. J-hope gets a giant box of cereal from Jin.
Episode 39 / 41 – Golden Bell Episodes – two-parter but split in the middle with a different episode. Here they play classic games and this is the LachiMolala/Carbonara classic telephone game with Jin being a stone cold genius. The winner gets JK’s desktop computer and the boys are super pumped about that.
Episode 53/54/55/56 – BTS Picnic (July 2018), an iconic 4-part series. Featuring terrible foot volleyball and their classic letters to each other over the final campfire.
Episode 63/64/65 – School-based games with Suga as the teacher. This series includes them playing a song using ringing bells (Jimin takes over for his whole team) and the classic debate on mint chocolate ice cream: good or evil? During the debate, they get sprayed with water when they say their “off limits” word, and J-Hope’s is that he gets sprayed whenever he laughs, and he cannot figure it out and gets sprayed a LOT.
Episode 69/70/71 – BTS goes to Toronto, and visits Niagara Falls. The choosing of the bedrooms is absolutely iconic. There is a lot of shopping. In the evening they play a bunch of games to transfer their penalty points to each other and it’s pretty hilarious – includes staring games, word games, bottlecap flicking, and many head-to-head challenges. Jin and Jimin take a dip in Lake Simcoe.
Episode 72 – Mafia – BTS play Mafia. There are so many twists! Someone is a secret spy…but the tables are turned when it turns out EVERYONE was a secret spy with their own agenda. Very fun!
Episode 79/80 – Mall Scavenger Hunt – they must search for tickets and items over two floors of a mall, and play various games to exchange their tickets for hearts. Everyone is super sneaky and lies about how many hearts they have gathered, so the end result is a surprise to all.
Episode 97/98 – PJ party – so cute. Features ASMR challenge, karaoke, telestrations. Everything you need to feel better about the world – a must watch.
Episode 104/105/106 – Photo Challenge. A must watch. First, the members select a few items of clothing to “makeover” with accessories, clothing paint, sewing supplies and a glue gun. Jin makes a legendary pair of pants from Hawaiian swim trunks + the arms of a gold sequined jacket. Then they have to draw to see who will wear which outfit, and poor JK, who took the most care with the outfit he created, has to wear Jin’s horrifying creation. Then they have a themed photo shoot as individuals and small groups, which is awesome, then they have a gallery reveal of the best pics, including the legend that is Good Boy Jimin.
Episode 118/119 – Photo Story. The boys must collect post it notes to make sentences that describe a picture, then try to snap that picture for points. In the second episode it is revealed that one of them was a spy, and any pics including that one will turn into negative points, and Jungkook is SO FUNNY when he sees his dreams of gold turn to dust.
Episode 122/123 – Avatar Cooking Reversed – With RM as the host, JK/Jimin and V/J-Hope must give instructions to Jin and Suga, walking them through the cooking of a few dishes. Everything is chaotic and hilarious.
Episodes 131/132 – Poolside debates – 7 debates on silly topics, each for 11 minutes. If the members say certain words, they get sprayed with a water cannon. If they do certain actions, they all get sprayed and the central moderator gets a giant water bomb. So funny it’s hard to breathe.
Episodes 154 / 155 – The Last. After announcing that Run BTS would go on indefinite hiatus, they aired this last episode where the members remember great moments from the show. They then repeat a couple of their most popular past challenges, including the photo jumping challenge (just as funny as the first time!), have a picnic, and receive a photo book of memories from the staff.